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Quick and Fancy

July 11, 2011
Pork Chops Du Barry

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It’s summertime, and dinner parties are more fun than ever.  If you don’t want to (or for some reason, can’t) barbecue, you can still make a grand time of it.  And who said you need to break the bank for a fancy dinner?  Buying smart, this dinner can be done at less than $3 a plate, but it truly is exquisite.  These pork chops, named Du Barry after Mme Du Barry, Louis XV’s mistress, feature a steamed cauliflower under a cheesy cover.

The ingredients:

  • Thick boneless pork loin chops (1 per serving)
  • 2-3 cauliflower florets per serving (a whole head of cauliflower will serve about 6)
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Cheese (cheddar or colby jack)
  • Salt, black and white pepper, nutmeg, paprika
Ingredients
Ingredients
First, rinse the pork chops, then cover them in plastic wrap and give them a good beating with the meat tenderizer on both sides.  Rub some salt, black and white pepper, nutmeg and paprika in them, then roll them in flour.  In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Tenderizing the meat

Tenderize...

Spicing the meat

... spice...

Dip it in flour

... and coat the chops in flour.

Beat off the excess, and heat some butter in a pan over medium-high heat.  When the butter sizzles, quickly sear both sides of the chops until they turn white, then place them on a baking sheet.  I usually line mine with some aluminum foil to make the clean-up a little easier.

Searing the chops

Seared to perfection

In the meantime, bring some salted water to a gentle boil in a small pot, and boil or steam the cauliflowers.  When they’re tender, strain them on a strainer or colander, and pat off any excess water with a paper towel.

Now to the cheesy coating sauce!  For every serving, use approximately a tablespoon and a half of butter, and two and a half to three tablespoons of flour.  In a small pot, heat the butter over medium heat.  As it starts to sizzle, add the flour and stir vigorously, making sure the two combine well and the flour doesn’t stick to the walls anywhere or burns down.  This mixture is called roux.

Roux for the sauce

The butter/flour mixture, or roux is ready for the milk

Just as the flour would start to brown, slowly add about 1/4 cup of lukewarm milk, stirring constantly.  I usually just leave the milk in a cup by the stove to get it to lukewarm, but you can microwave it, too…  what’s more, cold milk will work if you completely forgot it – it’s just harder to get it to blend with the roux.  Season the milky sauce – essentially a simple béchamel sauce – with salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste.  Drop the heat to just below medium-low, and keep stirring the sauce as it thickens.

Bechamel

The thickened béchamel sauce

As the sauce starts to thicken enough that it pulls away from the walls of the pot, add the shredded cheese.  I can’t really give pointers on this – when you think you added too much cheese, drop in a little more.  Keep stirring until the cheese melts and blends with the rest of the sauce.  With the cheese added, the béchamel just transformed into what’s called a gratin sauce.  It’s used to cover baked things in cheesy goodness – and hence the name au gratin for these dishes.

Gratin sauce

Cheesy gratin sauce

Back to the chops.  Place 2-3 cauliflower florets on each chop, then cover them with the gratin sauce.  Add some more cheese on the top, and they’re ready for the oven!

Ready to bake

Ready to bake!

Bake them until the meat thermometer inserted into the pork reads 160 degrees – make sure the thermometer is inside the chop, not in the cauliflower.  For a little extra color, switch over to the broiler for the last minute or two, keeping a close eye on the cheese.  As soon as it’s browned, pull the chops out – don’t let some burned cheese ruin your masterpiece!  Serve it with rice or mashed potatoes, a nice salad and some wine.  I would recommend either a light rose wine, like a White Zinfandel, or a spicy, lively white – Gewurztraminer or Moscato.  Of course, on a summer night, Sangria is perfectly acceptable with almost anything.

Pork Chops Du Barry

Pork Chops Du Barry

You can also prepare this recipe with veal loin chops instead of pork – this will of course drive the price up, but if you or your dinner guests don’t eat pork, you don’t have to sacrifice the wow-factor in this recipe.

Enjoy your meal!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2011 23:27

    Thank you! 🙂 Béchamel is actually considered to be a “mother sauce” – you can modify it by adding different things to it or playing around with the proportions to get different results. For another example, if you prepare it with more milk and add Swiss cheese, it becomes a Mornay sauce; or if you add more flour and less milk, you can mix it with ground ham, shredded cheese or ground smoked salmon, roll it into little sticks that you fry – croquettes are always awesome!

  2. July 11, 2011 23:12

    I like how you explained the evolution of the sauce- I think I understand sauces a little better now!

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